Book Report: Pierced for Our Transgressions

**This is a very late post to the debate. Although, I am not at all interesting to joining in the controversy but just reflecting on my recent reading of the book and hoping someone else find this helpful.

I want to like this. I do like this book.


IMG_9278.ed.jpgThe only taint is that the writing was prompted by an infighting background which constantly plagues evangelicalism. This doesn’t mean the caricature of penal substitution amounting to “cosmic child abuse” is a statement that should be forgiven on accounts of theological laymanship on the part of Chalke. The issue gets even more complicated when a figure like N.T Wright refuses to be part of the 10 pages of endorsement from the who’s who of evangelicalism. Wright had earlier endorsed Chalke’s book, defended the “cosmic child abuse” quote as a statement taken out of context (which is in fact the case), only for Chalke to later continue down the fuzzy theological line that Wright couldn’t continue to defend.

The book itself is actually mostly faultless in terms of content, although I remain partly dissatisfied in terms of a depth that couldn’t possibly be achieved given the book length. The first part of the book sought to define the doctrine, the second answers objections, which again, given the book length, seem to hastily swipe aside oppositions.

The appendix titled, “a personal note to preachers” touched on where the issue really lies. There are some ways of speaking about Penal Substitution, especially with the use of really faulty analogies in stories of Judges and tribal Chiefs that really do make God out to be an abuser. Penal Substitution cannot be rightly understood without union with Christ. The doctrine cannot also be explained in completely human terms without making distinctions on how divine justice can or cannot be equated with human justice.

Pierced for our Transgressions is a fine work. Yet recommending it comes with warning to readers to first understand the background issues before diving in.


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